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Adsense Developing Fully Customizable Ads Blocks?

Adsense-FormatGoogle Adsense are testing new ad formats that allow publishers to have greater control over how many ads are show and what the overall size of the ad block is.

The other day when a few of us were analyzing the Adsense performance of Dogster and Catster it struck me that something was a little odd about the Adsense advertisements on those sites. (update: the Catster ads have been removed – but the Dogster ones remain at this point)

It didn’t hit me straight away what was different but after going back a few times in the days since I’ve realized what it is – they are in a format that is unlike any other ads I’ve seen on an Adsense publisher’s site before.

I’ve posted a screen capture (from Dogster) to the left and you’ll notice if you look closely and compare it with the ad formats that many of us are familiar with that this ad format is different on a couple of levels.

Firstly there are five ads on it and secondly the size of the overall ad is different.

Of course I wanted to get to the bottom of this and went to the site owner to see what they’d tell me. I asked if they were a premium publisher (who get some special treatment from Google for such things). They politely refused to comment. On reflection I realized that this would not be the case as Ted previously mentioned his traffic levels and they were not in the vicinity of what premium publishers need to do to get that treatment.

I also asked if they were trailing a new ad format. The answer again was no comment. As you’d expect from testers of Adsense publishers involved in testing a new ad format would not be at liberty to speak about the tests.

This did not deter me – I began to surf a few other sites that I suspected Google use as test sites and found a variety of new shapes and sizes of ad formats. Again I asked questions and after talking to a few hit the jackpot with one publisher who agreed to share what they knew as long as I didn’t reveal who they are.

Here’s the scoop. Adsense are testing a system where by the publisher not only chooses from a number of prescribed ad formats (as we currently do) but where they themselves are able to determine:

1. the ad format size
2. the number of ads to be shown in this space

This is an interesting development because it allows publishers to have much greater control over the design of ads and the integration of them into their sites. It would give real freedom to publishers to find the very best position on their site without needing to completely rearrange their site’s design to accommodate them.

There is no word of when such a system might actually go live but as far as I can see they are testing it in a number of places which could mean that it is sooner than later.

Update: Let me reinforce – the digging I’ve done is with a number of sites – some of them smaller bloggers – non premium bloggers. This leads me to SUSPECT that they are testing this for other non premium sites. This is a best guess/assumption/speculation/non factual statment. Time will tell whether my sources have the whole picture and if my deductions are on the money – but I’m hoping they are.

Let me know what you think of this possibility in comments below.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Nicole Simon says:

    Oh that is great news! I have defenetly some use for just slightly different adformats!

  2. dogster.com’s JavaScript looks more like a hack than a supported feature.
    Anyway, I would love an ad unit format of 546×80 with 3 ads.

  3. Geert says:

    If there is one thing I personally would like to change about the ads it is not the size in the first place but rather the font.

  4. Will Pate says:

    What I really want is filtering by keyword, tag or category. Dang if those ads for blog services aren’t a pain in the neck on my blogs.

  5. Jon says:

    Could it be that the site is a high traffic site, high traffic site are allowed to tweak their ads. http://glog.jon-berg.biz/dump/2005/03/14/highvolume-web-sites-allowed-to-tweak-google-adsense/

  6. John says:

    High traffic but, as discussed in the earlier post, really lousy revenue. Their $950 a month over both sites doesn’t sound like it would be worth the effort of giving them special priveleges. But I’m just guessing…

  7. Marina says:

    I’d really love to be able to tweak that “ads by goooogle” link. It’s color and underline always were an annoyance to me.

  8. Rob Lewis says:

    This is good news, always wondered why Google haven’t allowed greater control before now, even things that I would have thought would be simple, such as limitng the number of ads. I guess the growing threat of competition from Yahoo! and MSN in this particular area is spurring them on.

    On a slightly different point, with Google ads being formatted in lots of different ways, it will make it more difficult to distinguish ads from content, which, depending on your outlook, may or may not be a good thing.

  9. Expect to see the market open up a lot more once Yahoo! has their publisher network officially released. I’d warrant Google are plainly aware to the direct threat in revenues, and are exploring a ream of different flexible approaches to help ensure the capture of third-party site traffic, which accounts for nearly 2/3 revenues to 2005.

  10. Ñá mambuí, currao, que nao entiendo ná de toda esta vaina.

  11. Michelle says:

    I’ve already changed the overall size of GoogleAds on one of my sites by changing the value of google_ad_width and google_ad_height, but having more options would be welcome. I especially hope the new ads will be accessible to users with disabilities.

  12. alister says:

    I did trust GOOG completely to be more innovative than others, Let us see whether they treble or quadruble their profits today..

  13. sara says:

    Google is always improving there adsense program which its great. Lets see what they come up next.

  14. sornavel says:
  15. I was on catster.com. They really have different add formats, but what is surprising me, they have 5 adds on one page – and that is not allowed by google (I know only 3 adds are allowed). You can see here:
    http://www.catster.com/forums/main_topic.php?t=44

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